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Friday, September 24, 2010

a political conscience in a foreign land

Well, I’ve been writing in English a bit lately and I feel like having a go at it in English this time. I hope I’ll be able to express myself in the same manner as I have before.

I have thought allot about what to write this time because there are currently two simultaneous streams of thought in my mind. One is more of the past and present state of society as a whole. Throughout my recent travels around the world my perspective has grown from the micro to the macro and my readings have been according to that stream of thought. But on the other hand my timely return to what I have grown to call home in North Carolina has brought me back to my own personal perspective of the MY future which is at the current time unknown.
But I will start with what is more of a burden to me lately - the current state of the society I have been residing in - the United States of America, "LAND OF THE FREE", and the similarities I have learned to acknowledge to the far away home of Israel. And I don't think my analysis can at all be separated from my state of mind of an unknown future.
I have just recently finished writing to an author I very much appreciate. I was finally capable of wording one of the main reasons I decided to leave everything I have known my whole life behind and come here: " Four months ago I decided to leave a constant struggle in my life behind and moved to the USA. The main reason I moved was that I had a desire to see with my own eyes an America that wasn’t filtered through Hollywood movies or CNN broadcasting, and to better understand the culture that had been such a major influence on me as an American born Israeli Zionist. So instead of moving to New York, which is what is expected of every Israeli moving to America, I moved to Asheville North Carolina, maybe the only place in world that doesn’t have a major Israeli population." What I found out is that I can’t leave that struggle behind...

I think for the first time I can start writing about my initial conclusions. If I were to title a book about my observations here in the US it would be: "A State of Debt - A State of Fear". The constant struggle for the common person here is to pay off the debt they have collected through their years. What I had naively thought of as basic needs that must be insured for any citizen of a modern state, here in America are a constant financial burden. Paying thousands of dollars annually for health and education, my friends all live in fear of their debts to the bank, to the government and what gradually becomes - to society. And although this is such a basic notion for anybody part of the American culture, what it produces is people who live in constant fear. Although I have yet to understand the minuscule details of this society, and although I still have much to learn in order to scientifically prove my point, I still have a strong conviction of this fact to be a truism.

But my true worries are not about the debt and the fear, for they have now become by-products almost, even though they are the roots of the problems. When a society has learned to defend its biggest defects and camouflage it as the highest values achievable the demagogy of it leaves a mass of people confused. Having an empty bank account, that can be filled magically by non-existent money, and a credit collector that will one day try to bite them in the ass, is just one example of many . The financial debt and sociological fear, have left people unaware of this phenomenon to be so vast. The constant message portrayed in all forms of media that “it’s their fault, and that if they work hard enough, they’ll be successful.” makes people direct their anger toward themselves or towards a notion they sometimes call god, instead of seeing what’s going on in their neighbor’s yard. I recently saw a movie called the Blind Side. In the movie, Sandra Bullock – an all American, republican, suburbia living mama, adopts a black, overgrown teenager. And the whole family falls in love with him, and he succeeds in football, and gets a college scholarship and blah blah blah, and in the end they tell us it was based on a true story. Even though the movie personally made me cry at the end (yeah, I’m a sucker for bad romantic movies), I felt disgusted. This movie was reaffirming everything that was wrong. Selling us a single success story doesn’t indicate the rule, it is the exception. I know how all this might sound as almost a childish perception of reality attacked by the critics from my right to be complete nonsense – because the “system works, doesn’t it?” and from my left as such a basic observation that it might almost be ridiculed from both sides, but the truth of it is almost overwhelming to me. Living my whole life as critique of modern capitalism never prepared me for the true feelings that arise from a life as an inseparable part of the society I have disregarded as petty and dog-eat-dog.

This fear manifests itself in so many terrible ways that it’s hard to even start laying it down. But I will start with the few I have recently observed. I think the two examples that epitomize these defects to the highest extent are teenagers and religion. I choose these two because of my affinity to these subjects. I have written my observations about a recent student of mine, and therefore I will start with religion. The graphic propaganda I have attached here is an example of one of many that exist in the religious fundamentalist arch-right in the USA today and characterize a larger scale of undercurrents in society.























I cannot begin to explain how infuriated I was by these words and graphics, designed with one intent, to “support Israel”. I felt stick to my stomach after reading this for the first time. And every time after. Who were these people allowing themselves the liberty to be Israel’s supporter? My supporter? These war mongering, primitive thinking, fundamentalists have nothing to do with Israel, why do they choose to name their fowl thoughts and propaganda as “loving Israel”? The deeper I began to search for answers, I found that the answers couldn’t be found only in the realm of religion, and certainly not in my self proclaimed Judaism. The main sensation that I felt underlined in this morally corrupt doctrine, was a manifestation of fear. A fear of progress not even disguised in the politically correct manner that they’re usually sheltered by, but simply put. A fear, that the “all American” deeply Christian “family values” introduced into our “modern” and “western” lives by Disney ethics and Hollywood sensations such as “The Blind Side” might disappear from our world in favor of true human rights, and social equality. A fear that the truth might arise to show us all that the narrative of “ work hard enough and you can succeed”, and most of all, an ethos of freedom, masquerading the inevitable truth that we are servants of our own ineptitude to be free. The only people that benefit from this ethos are the ones selling it to us – the self perpetuating conservative economic powers of today.

I’ll try to explain a bit more the connection I see between the arch-right Christian support of Israel and all American values. Any conservative power today, will try with all its might, to do the one thing it is destined to do – conserve its power. Israel is a small nation of 7 million people, a small dot on the global map, and yet it get’s covered by the media to such a degree that sometimes, ill educated people here in the US tend to think of it as, either plainly stated – much larger than it truly is, or even to some extent as a global power. But the main reason for the coverage is mostly because of the constant deprivation of human rights on Israel’s side ,and of course its special relations with the US. I will not go into why Israel is the main course of ultra left liberal attacks, but is it truly because of the actions that Israel has undisputedly undertaken, or is it a struggle between bigger powers playing on a small scaled field? To my suspicion, there is a mind-baffling struggle between progressivism and conservatism on a global scale. The same people, and their values, that fund a campaign such as “love the Jewish people” have a hidden agenda in Israel to perpetuate a conflict because the very notion of peace and progress will collapse their conservatism, and therefore collapse their power over Israel and more so its media coverage. A constant state of conflict creates a people preoccupied with perpetuating the conflict itself, therefore of a conservative nature. An Israel without conflict is like a fundamental Christian movement without abortion clinics – a people without a cause to fight for. A people not perpetuating conflict might have the leisure to become educated enough to understand the realities in which they live and choose to fight for a different cause – like human rights or social equality. Since Israel is getting all this press, it was just natural for Christian fundamentalists to slip in the shoes of our “savior” since it allows them yet another microcosm in which they are battling for an ultimate good, but by so defeating Israel’s true interests. Any American, church going, republican mama will defend her beloved all American values, just like she will defend Israel to be righteous in this conflict without understanding anything of the true nature of it – because she has connected the two together through church and religion.

This struggle comes to the surface as a struggle between politics, culture and values with an underline manifestation in economics. So why do arch-right Christian movements support Israel? Israel has undergone a process of what is generally named in Israel as –Americanization, mistaken sometimes as globalization. This process is not yet complete but advancing rapidly, and to prove that you can ask any Israeli what life is like without health insurance and he would stare at you with bewilderment due to the fact that such a notion is inconceivable. But still, health insurance prices are rising, and the all American values of privatization are infiltrating the economic system in Israel now for the past 33 years. But not only have the economics changed, the basic fact is that the values have changed too. What are these values that Israel has adopted so fondly? The values of a “Do It Yourself” social economically polarized society, where the poor get poorer, and the rich get richer, or simply put – “the American Way”. Israel has turned from a local European influenced social democratic state to a front of all American, Christian fundamentalist values in the middle east. Or as many Israeli’s wishful thoughts have named it to be the 51st state of America.

What we must understand is that the support we receive from these movements, eloquently naming it “love the Jewish people”, is funding Israel’s destruction, by perpetuating a state of conflict and fear. The notion that Israel will prevail is as empty as the once celebrated notion that, the collapse of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War was the beginning of an era in which America will prevail for all eternity. It will not. During the recent Bush era, his support in Israel was backed and based on that notion, a religious one, that Israel deserves a right to exist on religious premise. That is not the reason for Israel to exist, the main purpose for Israel as a nation for all Jews, can exist only when its justification lies in creating a safe and peaceful home for all its citizens and not as a liaison for American values to the middle east. The only way for “Israel to prevail once again” is by creating a genuine peace process and attempting to aspire once again to its long lost ambition to strive towards utopia and reclaim its local, middle eastern- European influenced definition of progress and moral ethics. That path does not go through all American hollow values. It will prevail through hard work to revise the empty words and fruitless goals Israel has set for itself, and revive the standards it once held itself accountable for – Democratic and Jewish. As the saying goes that after the French revolution the national motto was (and still is) “liberty, equality and fraternity”, but freedom went to the west – to America, equality went to the east – to the Soviet Union, and fraternity went to hell. So for Israel – democracy went to the left, and Judaism went to the right, and all we have left is a dream that went all wrong.






4 comments:

  1. powerful ending, and yet it's still not as simple as that......what about the personal and anthropological issues that govern these changes??
    leave it for the next post.....this one was heavy enough.

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  2. oh, and, you are an "auto-didact"!

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  3. right... but: "the main purpose for Israel as a nation for all Jews, can exist only when its justification lies in creating a safe and peaceful home for all its citizens"... with an emphasis on "ALL its citizens"... ie treating ALL citizens equally, and you can't do that while giving one people priority [hmm, understatement?] over another.
    it is exactly this FEAR that you describe so critically that holds us back from peace or normality... and the zionist [=nationalist] movement you're so fond of is fully responsible for installing this fear in us... and your boy herzl is rolling around in his grave seeing what's become of his dream gone wrong...

    but i still think you're a rockstar.
    (even if you are a zionist)

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  4. הלוואי וגם אני יכלתי לכתוב משהו...
    אם רק כל זה היה כתוב בשפה אחרת...

    ReplyDelete